By An Executive Editor
The National resistance Movement – NRM party – is fighting hard to retain the Serere County Member of Parliament seat. The seat fell vacant after the tragic death of Bishop Patrick Okabe, who died alongside his wife Christine Okabe in a car crash along the Mbale-Tirinyi highway on December 19, 2022. 3 days ago, the Electoral Commission set Thursday, February 23, 2023, as the polling date for the by-election of Member of Parliament of Serere County, in Serere district.
However, the exercise comes at a time when there is division in Serere. This was worsened with Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa introducing Okabe’s son, Emmanuel Omoding at the funeral, to replace his father. Okabe made it to Parliament on an Independent ticket. The NRM flag bearer for Serere County is Phillip Oucor.
Well-placed sources say the NRM top leadership will on Monday, January 9, 2023 meet at the party headquarters in Nakasero to iron out the differences.
The NRM Electoral Commission Chairman, Dr. Tanga Odoi in an exclusive interview with the Kampala Gazette mid this week said the party has a flagbearer in Serere.
“We have a flag bearer. The flag bearer of an electoral cycle goes on for 5 years. It is only like in Soroti where the flag bearer said I am weak, I am going to do other things but here the flag bearer is very determined. No one can tell us to do anything else. Unless the flag bearer opts out. Which he has confirmed he is not going to,” Dr. Odoi said.
Dr. Odoi says it is a wrong approach to have Okabe’s son replace his father yet the party has flagbearer.
“I think it is the wrong approach. The approach should have been to wait for the Secretariat to issue (because we have a flag bearer) unless the flag bearer opts out. That is the position of the law,” Dr. Odoi said.
A source in Serere sys Omoding is very unpopular in Serere.
“He lived in the United States until his father’s death. He knows nothing to do with local politics. In fact, he never even visited his father. It was his father who used to visit him. Will this person stay here? Is he even interested in our politics?”
Electoral Commission Spokesperson, Paul Bukenya, said Wednesday that the by-election will commence with an update of the National Voters’ Register from Friday January 6, to Tuesday January 10, 2023, at update stations in each of the 38 parishes and wards in Serere County.
The Commission has appointed January 10, 2023, as the cut-off date for registration as a voter and for transfer of voting location in the county. Bukenya warned that no registration and transfer of voters from one polling station to another within Serere County will take place after the deadline.
According to the roadmap, the display of the Voters’ Register will be conducted for a period of 10 days from Monday January 23 to Wednesday February 1, 2023, at 138 polling stations to give time to the commission to clean up the register.
The nomination of candidates will be conducted on February 9 and 10, at the Office of the District Returning Officer of Serere and be followed by campaign meetings which will be limited to only nine days from February 13 to February 21, 2023.